Yoga For Seniors

Gentle Yoga for Elderly

 

GOLDEN YEARS FOR FITNESS

 
In today’s popular culture, fitness is defined in quite narrow terms. We tend to view fitness primarily as an aesthetic pursuit. It’s about looking good! Some focus on “functional fitness” and “functional movement” has been introduced in the last decade or so, but even these fitness approaches tend to exist somewhat removed from the greater context of our lives. For example, a functional fitness class at the gym does not emphasize other important aspects of wellbeing,  like personal relationships, self introspection, and, ironically, physical health. (Repetitive strain injuries anyone?) The inadequacies of the fitness paradigm are particularly so for seniors, who are in a phase of life that doesn’t align with  performance and aesthetically goal oriented approaches. 
 
As life expectancy rises globally, more of the world population is entering seniorhood, and seniors are leveraging their influence to establish their well-being as a fixture on the social landscape. Recognizing the shortcomings of the traditional fitness approaches, seniors are demanding methodologies that take an integrated approach to physical fitness; those that appreciate the individual as a complex, whole being and  place an emphasis on  quality of life and overall health. As many have already discovered, yoga fits the bill across the board. 
 

YOGA: A HOLISTIC PRACTICE WITH HOLISTIC RESULTS

 
Yoga is a holistic practice combining physical poses (asana) with mindfulness, breathing techniques, and meditation. The combination of these practices promotes functional mobility, self discovery and helps rebalance the nervous system. For millennia, yoga practitioners have attested to the benefits of yoga. While these anecdotal reports are compelling, modern science is now able to validate these claims. The research on  yoga is preliminary, however, initial studies have found a yoga practice to positively correlate with both  physical and mental wellness. It’s uncontroversial that yoga can improve strength, flexibility, and endurance, but studies have also found that regular practice may help:
  • Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Recovery from strokes and surgery
  • Prevent falls
  • Manage arthritis, pain and inflammation
  • Manage diabetes
  • Manage digestive issues like IBS 
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Facilitate the grieving process
  • Manage depression and anxiety
 
When we consider these  benefits on the whole, it’s not surprising that several studies concluded practicing yoga measurably improves seniors’ self reported sense of well-being.  While some of the benefits on this list can be derived from other fitness programs, yoga outperforms other exercises on several key metrics. For example, one study found that elderly adults assigned a yoga practice experienced greater improvements in regulating feelings of anger and anxiety, as well as increases to their sense of well-being and self-efficacy, than those in an exercise control group. This is not to say that going for a run or lifting weights is not beneficial, but it appears yoga is unique in its scope and its ability to address a broad spectrum of wellness indicators.  
 

YOGA IS FOR ANY BODY

 
Because yoga is not a purely physical practice, there is flexibility to adapt one’s practice to meet one’s needs.  This is a significant factor why yoga has become so popular with seniors. Yoga practices range from the physically demanding Power and Ashtanga yoga, to gentle Yin and chair yoga. It also encompasses conscious breathing and meditation exercises, providing practice options appropriate for those of limited mobility. Many teachers have developed senior specific practices, and the scientific community has assisted in this regard, conducting studies that identify poses and techniques suitable to senior’s needs and bodies.
 
In short,  there IS a yoga practice available to you, no matter your age, nor your physical limitations. And with the boon in senior specific classes available,  there’s never been a better time for seniors to discover yoga.
 

START PRACTICING

 
If you are a senior, and are interested in trying yoga, I’d suggest starting with a Gentle or Senior's yoga class right here on DoYogaWithMe.com. We have plenty of classes for seniors available below, all of which are absolutely free. However, it is very important to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, particularly if you have major health concerns or injuries. Online yoga is an excellent beginners resource, but depending on your physical capability, you may want to practice, at least initially, in a supervised classroom setting. The classes listed below are taught by experienced yoga instructors and are arranged from most gentle at the top to most challenging at the bottom. We recommend you begin at the top and work your way down. As you gain strength and flexibility and start to feel comfortable with the various poses, the classes further down the list will become more accessible to you. And remember: yoga poses should never hurt. Move out of a pose if it is causing any pain. If you feel pain, stop immediately.
 

Below is a list of challenges and classes that are ideal for 55+. Whatever you choose, try to do the classes regularly so you can see the benefits of a consistent yoga practice. You may be surprised how great it can make you feel!


GENTLE EXERCISE VIDEOS FOR SENIORS

The best place to begin is our subscriber-only Back to Health Senior 30-Day Yoga Challenge, which begins with very gentle, short, beginner yoga classes and progresses to ones that are slightly more challenging and rewarding. If you aren't able to afford a sustaining membership at this time, apply for one of our bursaries.
 

30-Day Seniors Yoga Challenge

 

 

 

 

Back to Health Senior 30-Day Yoga Challenge

Duration: 30 days, 1 class/day
Instructors: David Procyshyn, Satiya Channer, Tianne Allen

This 30-day yoga challenge designed for seniors offers you a daily practice that alternates between yoga classes and guided meditations. It is designed to help you safely improve your mobility, strength and balance, while teaching you how to relax and feel less stress and anxiety. Classes are ideal for 55+.

 

If you would prefer to try a few classes first, here is a sample of our free classes that are great for 55+:

An Introduction to Yoga for Seniors

Duration: 6 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

This gentle introduction to yoga helps you understand how to move and stretch in a way that is safe and most beneficial to you and your body. David teaches you a few basic principles of yoga that you can carry with you into any class.
 

Chair yoga for seniorsChair Yoga for the Upper Body

Duration: 27 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

This gentle beginner's yoga class is all done in a chair. You would be surprised how much you can do! David shows you how you can stretch most of the major muscles of the upper body in a thorough and effective way. He makes the poses more accessible by using a strap. As you progress, you can move your hands closer together. If you don’t have a strap, you can use a rope or a belt.

 

Chair yoga for the elderlyChair Yoga for the Lower Body

Duration: 16 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

We can also effectively stretch and strengthen the lower body while sitting in a chair. In this chair yoga sequence, David shows you how it’s done. Using a strap, David takes you through how to stretch the back, front and sides of the legs, as well as the hips and lower back, which will help encourage blood flow to your feet and strengthen your balance and body awareness.

 

Get Started With Yoga

Duration: 19 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

This is a gentle yoga classes that teaches you how to do yoga safely, to get the most benefit and avoid injury. David teaches you how to sit, stretch and adapt your poses and movement using yoga props, including blankets, blocks and a chair (if you have them).

 

Slow Flow: Salutation Variations

Duration: 19 mins
Instructor: Guy Friswell

In this short class, Guy guides you through a series of three distinct salutation sequences: salute to all directions, salute to the gods and goddesses, and salute to the moon. Use any or all of these sequences at the start of your practice — particularly in the morning — to get your body warmed up and your energy flowing.

 

Yoga for Arthritis: Wrists, Ankles and Feet

Duration: 12 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

Tightness in your hands, wrists, ankles and feet can lead to pain, and in this class you will learn how to avoid it and find relief. David shows you how to gently and thoroughly stretch the muscles of the hands, fingers, forearms, ankles, feet and toes, helping with arthritis and joint inflammation. It's helpful to have a couple of blankets, a yoga block (or two) and a strap (or something similar) nearby.

 

Chair yoga for seniorsRelease the Neck

Duration: 16 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

This class can be done seated on the ground, standing or sitting in a chair. David shows you how to help relieve a stiff sore neck and headaches with this effective series of stretches and movements that are designed to release all of the muscles of the neck. Once you learn to do this stretching routine, you will be able to do it on your own, whether you’re watching TV or waiting in line at the bank.


yoga for the hands and wristsHatha Yoga for the Hands and Wrists

Duration: 16 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

This class can also be done seated on the ground, standing or sitting in a chair. The series of gentle stretches and yoga poses in this hatha yoga class is perfect for those who work daily with their hands, whether you're an office worker, musician or carpenter. Doing this hatha yoga class regularly will help improve flexibility, range of motion and blood flow to the hands, wrists and fingers.

 

Yoga for 55+: Return to Practice

Duration: 28 mins
Instructor: Satiya Channer

This yoga for 55+ class is a little more challenging for the average senior. It comes with many benefits, including helping you establish the strength and flexibility that you need to maintain your abilities as best you can, such as your balance, the range of motion in your joints and your pain-free body. It will also prepare you for Satiya's next class: Yoga for 55+: A Beginner Flow.

 

Yoga for 55+: A Beginner Flow

Duration: 68 mins
Instructor: Satiya Channer

This yoga class for 55+ is perfect for beginners or anyone who feels they need a gentle yoga class that is longer and slightly more challenging. It begins with Satiya slowing you down, breathing, meditating and letting go of the day. She makes her way toward gentle, modified sun salutations, followed by a hatha yoga flow that includes balancing poses, and openers for the spine, hips, legs, shoulders and groin. It may feel a little more challenging than the average Yoga for Seniors class, but it will likely be accessible to most who are in this age range.

 

gentle yoga for the backGentle Hatha Yoga for Lower Back Pain

Duration: 22 min
Instructor: David Procyshyn

Lower back pain is very common, particularly as we get older and our muscles tighten. Even if you don’t have lower back pain, it’s a great idea to do a class that helps prevent it, since it can be difficult to find relief once lower back pain has set in. This gentle, beginner’s yoga class teaches you how to care for your back by taking you through a self-massage routine using tennis balls and a series of stretches that release key muscles in the hips, legs and back.

 

gentle yoga for the backRestoring Equilibrium

Duration: 65 mins
Instructor: David Procyshyn

This class is great for beginners and the elderly, since it is a very thorough stretching of the entire body, allowing you to release most of the tight areas of your body. Beginning and ending with deep relaxation, this longer yoga class for seniors, beginners and tighter yogis moves slowly and deliberately through a gentle sequence of poses that helps you stretch and feel calm and balanced.

Please Note: You need to be able to sit on the ground to do this class.  

 

yoga for the elderly - yoga for stability and alignmentAlign, Stabilize and Stretch

Duration: 53 min
Instructor: David Procyshyn

David spends more time in this class on alignment and stability so that you can safely stretch the hips, legs, back and shoulders. Do this class to reinforce alignment principles while increasing the range of motion in your joints. This is a great class for increasing the strength of the small muscles around your joints that aid in stability. 

 

I hope you enjoy the above resources. Comment below if you have any questions for comments!